100 Istoryang Albayano, Segment 9

By Abdon M. Balde Jr.

MAYON VOLCANO, BEAUTIFUL BUT DEADLY, is the most important landmark and icon of Albay.

It is the most photographed natural wonder of the province. It is the first land formation of outstanding beauty that catches the sight of a first time visitor of the province.

Mayon Volcano rises 2,462 m (8, 189 ft) above the Bicol Region of the Philippines and has a base circumference of 62.8 km (40mi). By height comparison, Mount Everest in Nepal is 8,849 meters (29,032 ft) high. It is located right in the center of the Albay Province, 460km south of Manila. Mayon Volcano is visible from nearly all cities and towns in the Albay Province. It is also visible from neighboring provinces.

Mayon is a stratovolcano known for its almost perfect symmetrical triangle shape. It is one of the natural wonders of the world. The upper slopes of the Mayon are steep, reaching up to 40° in angle. 

Mayon is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. There are over 50 recorded eruptions since the first documented activity in 1616.

The worst recorded eruption occurred on February 1, 1814. Some 1,200 residents of Cagsawa and the nearby towns were reported by Fray Francisco Aragoneses, an eyewitness, to have perished under the rain of pyroclastic materials and floods. The whole town including the church of Cagsawa and Budiao were completely destroyed by pyroclastic materials. The ruins of the large structures in Cagsawa still stand in the Cagsawa Ruins Park.

To this day, the Cagsawa Ruins still stand upright as an eerie reminder of the power behind Mayon’s fury.  Mayon has been restless since 1999, when it unexpectedly emitted a large plume of ash startling the local residents. A series of eruptions followed in 2000 and 2001.

Prior to this, the last major eruption of the Mayon was in 1993, causing the death of 70 people and evacuation of 50,000 residents. In November 30, 2006 lahar from Mayon due to heavy rains from Typhoon Reming killed over 1,300 residents of Albay.